With this inborn ability that almost every girl unknowingly possesses, she read, may one change one's age, assuming the face of one's future self. As always, the peculiar wording suggested to Kim that the book had not been written by a normal scientist.
The first is to fix the change in one's mind, she read on. Of utmost importance, do not forget oneself. That was a bit vague, but Kim thought it meant she had to perfectly conjure up the age change she wanted in her mind before initiating the bio-reaction. She continued to read, committing the stages of the reaction to memory. Then she stepped over to the large mirror in the corner of the room.
What age should she become? She looked at herself in the mirror with a slight frown. Smoothing her hands over her kid clothes, she pursed her lips in thought. She looked down at her small feet, her straight hips and legs, her utterlyflat bosom and her small innocent face and smiled. She'd always wanted to be tall...
Staring into the mirror, she slowly began to overlay her image in her mind with that of the woman she'd always known she would become. She imagined herself a full span taller and her feet and limbs proportionally larger. Her body grew slimmer, her hips and legs seeming to stretch out in her mind, her waist becoming tiny and delicate by comparison. Her bust also budded, her breasts becoming modest but pert. Her rounded face lost its fleshiness, her cheekbones rising to lend it a delicate angularity. Her eyes turned ice blue and her straight, dark hair, mussed from sleep, became a shimmering mass of flaxen waves. Her skin, somewhat pale from spending time indoors, lightened further still, becoming smooth and milky. A touch of colour at her cheeks and full scarlet lips completed the image.
With a smile on her face, Kim closed her eyes, fixing the picture in her mind. For a moment she breathed deeply. A ripple of tingles shivered through her body, bringing a gasp to her lips. For a moment she leaned forward, her hands on her strangely moving thighs, her body shaking. Sucking in a deep breath, she slowly straightened and opened her eyes.
For a moment Kim stared into the mirror, then her blue eyes widened. She brought her hands up to her cheeks. Long, delicate fingers with overgrown nails pressed against milky skin with just a hint of colour. She ran her hands down over her pertly exposed bust, her flat stomach and her slim hips, her eyes drinking in the changes in her body beneath the ruins of her devastated clothing. Looking down, her fuller lips curled into a smile as she saw a long expanse of leg peeking out from under the torn remains of pants that were now too short for her. She wriggled her exposed toes and feet that had borken out of their shoes, her smile widening. Throwing her hands in the air, she pirouetted, laughing delightedly. She gulped, then giggled as the sound of her laughter reached her ears. Even her voice had changed! Losing much of its throaty purr, it had become sweet and melodic. "Oh my," she whispered and giggled again. If only Terry could see her now.
Kim frowned for a moment. Terry? Where had that come from? Tony, she meant. Yes, that was it. Her smile returned as she dismissed the matter.
Dancing into the centre of the room, Kim failed to notice the first twinge in her muscles. She did notice that she was feeling surprisingly tired, but she put that down to lack of sleep. When her body spasmed again, she reached out a hand to steady herself on Nate's desk - but she never made it.
A low cry escaped her lips, then rose to a full, wailing scream as the first waves of agony rolled over her. She collapsed to the floor bonelessly, her body shaking uncontrollably as her eyes filled with tears. She must have sustained the bio-reaction too long.
Drawing herself up, Kim clenched her jaw, fighting against the pain that racked her body. With a mental effort, she tried to end the bio-reaction - and nothing happened!
Kim moaned as fresh agony gripped her frail body and tried again. Still nothing. Before she could begin to make heads or tails of what had gone wrong, all awareness slipped away. The last thing she heard as she swooned into unconsciousness was the door crashing open.
Kim blinked once. "Awake? Good," soothed a voice. For a moment she couldn't place it, but eventually it came to her. Nate. She forced her eyes open and looked up blearily.
Nate sat beside her, one hand placed gently on her forehead. He smiled, but the expression was devoid of feeling. "Foolish kid," he said, his tone mild, but his eyes blazing with anger. "Do you realise what you did? You're in a bit of trouble."
"I…I don't understand…what happened," muttered Kim, her voice hoarse. She remembered initiating the bio-reaction, then amnesia obliterated almost everything else.
"You could not cancel the bio-reaction," Nate informed her. "What was the first thing the protocol told you?"
"To…to fix the desired changes in my mind."
"And after that?"
Kim frowned in thought, an effort that brought nearly blinding pain to her head. "Not to forget oneself?" she finally replied.
Nate erupted from his chair. "Not to forget one's self, you little brat!" he bellowed. He began to pace around the room in an effort to rein in his anger. "The bio-reaction is a powerful sub-cellular process, little Kimmy," he finally said. "You change your physical age to the one you choose. To sustain the change requires energy. If you maintain the bio-reaction too long, it will cannibalise your body. You know that."
Kim nodded meekly. "But why-"
"Why couldn't you end the bio-reaction?" Nate broke in. At Kim's nod he continued, his voice harsh. "Because, foolish girl, you did not pay attention! You must fix your true age in your mind as well as your changed age, otherwise you cannot return to it! The bio-reaction will not end - rather, it will continue to drain power - and then life - from your body…until you die."
Kim stared at Nate for a long while, her eyes hurt. "Did you terminate the bio-reaction?" she whispered finally.
"No. I could not. Without exact knowledge of your true chronological age, it is as beyond me as it is beyond you."
"Then…I'm dying?" Kim's voice was tiny, scared.
Nate glared at her for a moment before finally taking pity on her. "No, Kim. You won't die." He stood and walked across the room. Turning her head to follow him, Kim saw that she was in her own chamber, lying in her own, now much too small bed. Nate picked up a mirror from her dresser and returned to her bedside. "Look," he said, offering her the mirror.
Kim glanced up at him before taking the mirror. Fearfully, she raised it before her and found herself staring into the same, perfect visage she had seen earlier. She lifted slim, white fingers to her face, pressing gently against the dark circles of exhaustion that had formed under her eyes. "I don't understand," she murmured plaintively.
"It's simple, child," Nate told her. "For all intents and purposes, this is now your new age." He reached out and pushed the mirror closer to her face. "Get used to it," he said. "You may never see your old face again."
Trembling, Kim's fingers reached out to drift across the mirror. Her expression was one of stunned astonishment, but it slowly melted into a look of pure joy. "I'm beautiful," she whispered huskily. "Forever and ever." Lifting her head she met Nate's gaze, her smile radiant. "Thank you, Nate," she said, squeezing his hand. "Thank you for my life and this gift."
Nate smiled, but responded sombrely, "Don't thank me yet, Kim. Thank me once you're sure you like your new adult age. After all, there will be many things you will have to get used to, many changes still to make."
"For one thing," broke in another voice, "we'll have to get you a whole new set of clothes." A smile on his face, Tony stepped into the room, closing the door behind him. "Your kid clothes would explode right of your adult body. Looks like it happened once already."
Kim turned towards Tony, who stepped forward and took her outstretched hand. Raising it to his lips, he murmured, "It is good to see you well again, little Kim. I was very worried when Nate found you. We weren't even sure it was you at first. Thank God for the rapid PCR sequencer in the lab."
Kim beamed at his words, but her smile faltered as a thought occurred to her. "I've changed so much. Will you feel differently about me now?"
Tony dropped to one knee by Kim's side and wrapped his arms around her, kissing
her cheek as he pulled her close. "My darling, I speak only the truth when I say I've never
loved you more than I do now."